|Morocco busts international cocaine ring|
|الجمعة, 12 سبتمبر 2014 10:08|
Morocco arrested 21 people in connection with an international trafficking network that was trying to smuggle 226 kilograms of cocaine from Latin America to Europe.
The security services attached to the Marrakech police constabulary carried out the September 4th operation, which led to the gang's capture and the record haul.
The drugs were being transported in a refrigerated lorry from Agadir and were hidden in crates of fish, according to the initial findings of the inquiry presented to the media by the police. The cocaine was headed for a foreign market, according to the chief of police, Mohamed Dkhissi.
The street value of this quantity of pure cocaine is estimated at over 226 million dirhams (20 million euros)," Dkhissi said.
Police said that the convoy was discreetly watched for two hours before the lorry was surrounded by officers from the security and intelligence services, who forced the driver to stop so that they could search the inside. The search, which was carried out with the aid of traineddogs
, turned up packages of cocaine, which were ready to be delivered.
According to Yassine Abdelkarim, a Marrakech-based correspondent for an Arabic-language daily, the gang members ranged in age from 24 to 50.
"They worked for international drug trafficking networks and formed a link between Europe and the Americas via Morocco," he told Magharebia.
"In this operation, the drugs that were seized had arrived at the port of Agadir from Latin America," he continued. "They were destined for a country in southern Europe. They were supposed to get there from northern Morocco via the town of Larache. But they were halted in Marrakech while in transit."
underlined that investigations were still being conducted in co-ordination with Interpol in order to tackle the rest of this network, which is in Spain.
Abdelkarim added that there were "other offenders who are on the run".
Behind them lie international drug trafficking networks, he said, that use "individuals who are carefully chosen by exploiting their disadvantaged social situation".
The Directorate-General for National Security (DGSN) on Wednesday (September 10th) said that judicial police in Marrakech, in co-operation with colleagues from Tetouan, arrested two people in Ksar el-Kebir on Tuesday linked to the international ring.
"This operation led to the seizure of 1.88 tonnes of hashish," the DGSN statement added. In addition to the hashish, the police officers seized huge amounts of money, three cars that had been used to transport illegal goods and several bladed weapons.
Rachid Elmnasfi, an expert on criminology, highlighted the size of the cocaine seizure, which he noted was a "major haul and an important operation because this is a hard drug".
Traffickers know that Morocco is a producer of cannabis, he said. "So cocaine traffickers are taking advantage of this to export cocaine to Europe through this Moroccan network," he added.